Calcium deficiency symptoms can be easy to overlook in the early stages especially if you aren’t sure what to look for. Early onset symptoms are often broad and can easily be mistaken for another condition or dismissed as a random “quirk” of the body. In most cases the suspicion of a calcium deficiency isn’t addressed until more obvious symptoms of low calcium begin to show.
The Importance of Calcium in the Body
Calcium is a mineral and is an essential nutrient to the human body. Without calcium we wouldn’t be able to form sturdy bone structures or teeth, our muscles would cease to function, our nervous system and hormones would be shot, and we would all suffer from high blood pressure.
This doesn’t sound like an appealing form of life, does it? Severe calcium deficiency symptoms can also be caused by hypocalcaemia, which is the technical term for having low levels of calcium in the blood. In truth, if the human body were to be subjected to low levels of calcium for a prolonged period of time then the eventual result would be death.
What Foods Contain Calcium?
Calcium is often associated with dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese because these products do tend to contain high levels of calcium, but many people aren’t aware that calcium can be found in a variety of healthy foods.
Even someone who is lactose intolerant can find sufficient calcium in non-dairy foods, like spinach, broccoli, kale, figs, oranges, seafood, beans, soy products, and almonds. Calcium can even be found in foods that you might not suspect, such as cereals, bread, and juice drinks.
Most of these items are considered “fortified” because vitamins and minerals are added to the product to give it a higher level of nutrition. Calcium can also be found in drinks and chewable treats designed to supplement a diet that doesn’t provide adequate amounts of calcium. If your diet doesn’t contain enough calcium rich foods then you may already be experiencing calcium deficiency symptoms.
Early Calcium Deficiency Symptoms
Women are far more likely to experience calcium deficiency, especially around the time of menopause. Unfortunately, more children and young women are being diagnosed with osteoporosis and general calcium deficiency due to low calcium intake through diet.
Some of the first calcium deficiency symptoms to crop up may be sporadic or they could be regular experiences. Muscle cramps are typically one of the first symptoms to appear when the body is experiencing low levels of calcium.
Muscle cramps can occur in any of the muscles in the body but are most likely to happen in the legs and during night time hours. Your muscles may ache or tremble, or you may even find that you have difficulty making coordinate movements. Your bones may ache and you might even become shorter over time due to bone loss.
Other common calcium deficiency symptoms are brittle nails and poor skin. A person who normally doesn’t suffer from dry skin may suddenly begin to experience this as a side effect of not taking in enough calcium through their diet.
Their nails are also likely to break or split easier and may appear transparent or a yellowish color at the tips. Poor calcium levels can also account for teeth that become thin and yellow in color.
In addition to the aforementioned deficiency symptoms, women may experience worse-than-usual cramping during menstruation and even irregular periods due to hormonal fluctuations caused by lack of calcium in the body. These symptoms could be relieved by eating more calcium rich foods.
Severe Calcium Deficiency Symptoms
Unfortunately most of the symptoms associated with calcium deficiency are hard to diagnose because they aren’t always obvious or severe, even when the body has been calcium deficient for a substantial period of time.
A sign that your body may be seriously calcium deficient is if your bones break easily and/or take longer to heal. It is also possible to develop high blood pressure as a result of insufficient calcium available to regulate blood pressure. Heart arrhythmia is also common in calcium deficiency cases.
Dietary Deficiency vs. Hypocalcaemia
There is a difference between a dietary calcium deficiency and hypocalcaemia. People who simply don’t take in enough calcium through the foods they eat are likely to experience symptoms of bone and muscle pain, bone loss, cramping, etc. Hypocalcaemia, if you recall, is a condition in which blood calcium levels are low.
This usually occurs as a result of the body being unable to absorb enough calcium. Certain medications, lack of vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium), and diseases can also play a part in hindering the body’s ability to absorb calcium from food.
Hypocalcaemia is much less common than a dietary calcium deficiency; however it is important that any suspected calcium deficiency be checked out. Failing to get enough calcium through your diet could cause your body to siphon calcium from your teeth and bones until they become weakened and brittle.
Osteoporosis is another concern for people who suffer from low calcium. Rebuilding the skeletal system from damage that has been done due to calcium loss can be difficult, which is why it is very important to address your diet and consider taking supplements if you believe that you may have a calcium deficiency.